As we each strive for our goals and dreams in life, there are two approaches we can take: a process-oriented approach and a results-oriented approach. One is the Bureaucrat, and the other is the Salesman. A lesson I have recently learned is that, in order to realize your dreams, it’s important to have a mixture of both. If you feel stuck in an area of your life, consider that it is because you are favoring one of the two too strongly, and need to add in more of the other.
I am, by nature, a Bureaucrat. I love process. As a kid, I loved to cross-stitch, and would spend hours plotting the exact path that I would stitch so as to use the least thread, move as quickly as possible, and make the fewest mistakes. I actually didn’t care about the finished product so much as how I made that final product. As a result, I have a bunch of efficiently-engineered, half-finished pieces. This love of process got even stronger with time. When I first moved to New York, my dream was to build a vibrant community for myself here. So I built a robust process to meet people: I found social groups to attend, posted on Facebook, talked to people wherever I went and made contact lists. Once I had the process in place, I hung up my “Mission Accomplished” banner and celebrated the lean machine I had built. But the results didn’t come as quickly as I expected. I had a great time at the events and met a lot of people, but because I wasn’t focused on the tangible results of increasing my friendships in NYC, I wasn’t actually making more friends.
The same can be said of many other areas of my life: I promise what I eat, not how much I weigh. I built a great system to run and manage my Coaching Crash Courses, but I don’t focus on revenue results. The benefit of being a Bureaucrat is that I build robust and efficient systems to reach my goals; the downside is that then I reason that, since I am “doing everything right,” the results are out of my hands. I feel I am not accountable for the actual results because I already did my part by building such a beautiful system.
My boss is, by nature, a Salesman. Her dream is to change the world, and she will not rest until she gets those results. Like clockwork, I can predict the time of month when I will get an email from her, anxious that we are not on track for hitting our monthly targets. These emails are effective in that they spur me and my coworkers into a spasm of fire-alarm action. We rally and usually deliver the results that my boss wants. Thanks to my boss, we keep our eye on the prize of growing and nourishing the company (which is what enables me to write this blog for you today).
There is a downside to the Salesman approach as well. The downside is that those results may not come efficiently or reliably, because a Salesman can overlook the importance of building an underlying process that smoothly brings the results. My coworkers and I scramble to deliver the results, but that’s because we drop what we are doing and focus on getting the results; having a process would have meant that we could have likely taken care of everything on our plates, in due time.
The key to effectiveness is to bring forth both the Bureaucrat and the Salesman and learn to balance them in your life. Build the process AND be responsible for rallying and caring about the results. If you have not attained an important dream in your life, ask yourself: “Is it because I don’t have a good plan-of-attack and just want the results NOW? Or is it because I am hiding behind that plan-of-attack and am not connected to the results that it’s supposed to bring?”
Once I started focusing more on the results of having good friends in New York, weighing the weight I wanted, and delivering the Crash Course revenue I had promised, my systems were able to truly deliver results.
Where are you being a Bureaucrat in your life? A Salesman? How can you start to balance the two? Write me a note and share.
P.S.- Want coaching on making processes WHILE achieving results? I lead a weekend workshop where I teach you how: the Life Coaching Crash Course. I promise, in two days, YOU will change your life. Locations include: NY, Boston, DC, San Francisco, LA and Denver.
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Dr. Samantha Sutton is a Senior Coach and Vice President and Director of Courses and Seminars at The Handel Group®. Samantha designs and leads the Handel Group’s® flagship workshop, the Life Coaching Crash Course. Samantha additionally coaches at universities such as Stanford and MIT. Prior to becoming a coach, Samantha received a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from MIT.